Monday, January 31, 2011


Author Leisha Kelly Passes Away

Grand Rapids, MI – Leisha Kelly, 47, was killed in car accident Tuesday night (January 25th) near Fowler, Illinois. Her son, 16-year-old Justice, was also killed in the crash. Kelly, a resident of nearby Clayton, Illinois, was the author of 11 books, among them a best-selling inspirational historical fiction series centered around the Wortham and Hammond families, set in Southern Illinois. Her most recent book, The House on Malcolm Street, was published by Revell in September 2010.

Kelly leaves behind her husband K.J. and a daughter, Hosanna. Kelly home-schooled her two children and served as a children’s ministry director and a youth minister at her family’s church. The couple had also recently become foster parents.

Vicki Crumpton, Executive Editor for Revell, who worked with Kelly since her first book, Julia’s Hope, was published in 2001 said, “I remember receiving Leisha’s first proposal in 2001. I read what her agent sent and called him that day to ask to read more of the manuscript. When I presented the proposal to our publishing committee, the team read the proposal and a few sample chapters. The first thing people asked was, “When can we read the rest?” And every time we received a new proposal from Leisha, people always asked, “When can I read more?” Leisha’s fans felt the same way. They always wanted to know when her next book would be out.”

“Leisha Kelly was an amazing talent. More than that, she was an amazing person, loved by family, friends, and her fans. Her unique writing voice will be greatly missed,” Crumpton said.

Twila Bennett, Senior Director of Marketing for Revell, remembers a story Kelly told her once. “She had a vivid memory of one of her first writing experiences that has stayed with me after all this time. She was young, it was the year that Mount Saint Helens erupted and she had heard the news stories about how the ashes might fall on other states. She felt a story burning in her and went out to her front porch and wrote and wrote. And then, the ashes from Mount Saint Helens really did indeed begin falling on her paper like snow.”

“I keep seeing that young Leisha now and look in wonderment at this girl, who overcame so much and gained the world on Tuesday with her son at her side,” Bennett said.

For more information on Leisha and her books, please visit

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fatal Judgment by Irene Hannon

Fatal Judgment is the first novel in the new romantic suspense series “Guardians of Justice” by acclaimed author Irene Hannon, who has been recognized with accolades including RITA and Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice awards.

Author Dee Henderson has praised Hannon’s latest book, saying, “Fatal Judgment is Irene Hannon’s storytelling at its best. I enjoyed every minute.”

In Fatal Judgment, U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has seen plenty of action during his years in law enforcement. But he'd rather go back to Iraq than face his next assignment: protection detail for federal judge Liz Michaels. His feelings toward the coldhearted workaholic haven't warmed in the five years since she drove her husband--and Jake's best friend--to despair . . . and possible suicide.

As the danger mounts and Jake gets to know Liz better, he's forced to revise his opinion of her. And when it becomes clear that an unknown enemy may want her dead, the stakes are raised. Because now both her life--and his heart--are in danger.

Full of suspense and romance, Fatal Judgment is a thrilling story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

About the Author:

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 25 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.

For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Trusting God to Get You Through by Jason Crabb

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Trusting God to Get You Through

Charisma House (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Best known as the powerhouse lead vocalist for one of Gospel’s most acclaimed and awarded groups, The Crabb Family, Jason Crabb’s career has already been an incredible ride. While garnering multiple Dove Awards, three GRAMMY nominations, and 16 #1 singles with his family, Jason has become one of the Christian music community’s most acclaimed vocalists. Crabb has become a “fan favorite” at the Grand Ole Opry, appeared regularly on the Gaither Homecoming Series videos, and was honored to sing for the Rev. Billy Graham’s final crusade in New York. He has sung with the legendary Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, among many other diverse and prestigious opportunities. His solo album debuted at #1 on Nielsen SoundScan’s Christian/Gospel Christian Retail chart the week following its release in 2009.

Visit the author's website.


More than anything else, this book is about an amazing God who reaches down and touches ordinary lives. It is a testimony of all He has done for Jason Crabb's family and for the people he has been privileged to meet throughout the years on the road. He wrote this book because every soul walks through the fire of adversity. Most of us have walked that plank several times. Whether the life of your dreams is unfolding before your eyes, or you are losing hope that it ever will, you have tasted a trial or two. No human being with breath in his lungs can say, "Difficulty has never darkened my doorstep." You may have entirely different life experiences than Jason. Yet, when you look in the rearview mirror, you can see the high points and low points of days gone by. The important thing—the truly amazingthing—is that like Jason—you came through all of it. There may be a scar or two to remind us of the past, but the past is behind us. Jason Crabb wants you to know that you came through it for a reason.There is something God is yet going to do with you. The important things to remember is that you can go through the fire—any fire—with God's help.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381744
ISBN-13: 978-1616381745


Just hold on, our Lord will show up

And He will take you through the fire again!

...Trust the hand of God, He’ll shield the flames again.

Facing Life’s Questions

So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances

Things I could not understand.

Every song I sing has lyrics centered on a strong gospel message, although the sounds are similar to musical genres that are popular today. Sometimes those familiar styles open doors to exciting and unexpected opportunities to sing outside of mainstream gospel circles.

I’m jazzed by invitations to take part in nontraditional gospel events. One such invite led to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, a place like no other in the world. Just being on that stage is an honor; how that particular night played out—well, it added to my amazement and demonstrated God’s willingness to use unusual circumstances in the fulfillment of His will.

Talk about irony! The sponsor of our portion of that night’s program was a watering hole in Nashville. You heard me right; our segment was sponsored by a bar—and what an amazing night it turned out to be. From that iconic stage I was privileged to share a

testimony that was fresh in my heart.

“Through the Fire” was part of my testimony that night. Like all my dad’s songs, it speaks to experiences that are common to all people. The song has run like a thread through the fabric of my own life. I told the audience at the Grand Ole Opry as much,

explaining how the song had ministered to Shellye and me during a painful season.

It was a poignant moment when I shared how God had brought us through the trauma of losing two precious babies in separate miscarriages. Although the shock of those losses was still fresh in our thoughts, fresher still was the miracle of God in bringing our season of heartbreak to an end. That night—February 14, 2003—I had the pleasure of sharing breaking news from our house: Shellye and I had just experienced the birth of our first child! Our daughter, Ashleigh Taylor, had been born the day before, and she and her

momma were doing just fine.

After the audience heard our songs and our testimony about Ashleigh’s birth, a woman stopped us outside the auditorium. Like most everyone else at the Opry, she had come to hear the music. But God had more than music in mind for her. With tears streaming

down her face, she said, “I didn’t have any idea I was coming here for this tonight, but I rededicated my life to God—right here at the Grand Ole Opry—sponsored by a bar!”

Life doesn’t always follow the script that makes sense to us. That was true for this woman, and it was true of our miscarriages. The birth of Ashleigh had come after many long days of testing and trial. So many times the dream of raising a family seemed bound

in thick layers of impossibility. Yet deep down, Shellye and I knew that we were not alone in the fight. God’s Word told us so. Many nights the Scriptures comforted and strengthened us. We had His assurance that He would bring us through:

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God.

—Isaiah 43:2–3

Shellye and I walked through some fire. Yet God brought us out and blessed us—radically! Today we have two daughters, Ashleigh Taylor and Emmaleigh Love. They are as beautiful as can be, just like their mother. I will tell you more about them later, but first let me tell you about the love of my life.

My Cowgirl

My earliest awareness of Shellye came when someone brought me a picture of her and said, “You’ve got to meet this girl.”

My reaction was, “Yeah, she’s kind of cute. Yeah, I’d like to meet her.”

I guess I played down my curiosity in front of my friend, but I thought the girl in the picture was beautiful. Little did I know that someone had shown that beautiful girl a picture of me. It was a shot from the album Looking Ahead, a record our family made

even before we started singing full-time. I had a crazy hairdo at the time—a comb-over with a curl that dropped right down the center of my forehead. My hairstyle looked like a 1950s throwback. Shellye wasn’t impressed.

Her reaction was actually stronger than that. She looked at the photo and said, “No way. I don’t think I’d like him at all.”

She then pointed to my curl, saying, “I don’t know about that.”

Sometime later, the Crabb Family was invited by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) to be part of an outdoor concert in Rosine, Kentucky, the home of bluegrass and the birthplace of Bill Monroe, the man known to this day as the Father of Bluegrass

Music.1 KET asked us to sing for a documentary they were making about Kentucky music.

Friends had told me ahead of time that Shellye planned to come and see me at the concert. Things didn’t go exactly according to plan, however. She and her folks arrived after our set was over. We were headed off the stage when I spotted Shellye getting out of a car.

I never took my eyes off her; I watched her walk across the field and toward the stage. I might not be able to tell you what Shellye wore yesterday, but I can tell you exactly what she was wearing in Rosine. She cut straight across that field in blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and roper boots.

Shellye was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. She looked even more beautiful than her picture. My heart skipped a beat—maybe two—and I remember thinking, “Well, I’ve got me a little cowgirl with long, curly hair.”

I wasn’t the only one who noticed Shellye. Our drummer asked, “Who is that?”

I said, “Let’s go meet her.”

“Yeah, I want to meet her,” he said.

We talked to Shellye for a while. Then it hit me: I didn’t need to help the drummer get to know Shellye; I needed to head him off at the pass! Just as quick as you can bat an eye, I asked her, “Hey, what are you doing tonight?”

“I’m going to church,” she replied.

“Well, good, because I’m going with you.” I didn’t ask her if I could accompany her; I just told her we were going to church together. It was bold, but it was OK with Shellye.

She was comfortable knowing that her stepmom knew me. In fact, her stepmom was Kathy’s cousin. So, I wasn’t a complete stranger, and church seemed like a safe first date.

In the meantime, we tried to get out of the blistering heat. The only place that was even slightly cooler than that hot Kentucky field was the inside of our old GMC bus. It was our family’s first bus, and it burned almost as much oil as it did gas. It wasn’t pretty, but

it had places to sit and offered shelter from the sun. It even had a recliner that we had installed for on-the-road comfort.

Shellye sat in the recliner, and I stood in the stairwell. We just talked and talked until it was night. By the time we left for church, one thing was certain: our meeting was no accident. The hours I spent with Shellye were like nothing I had ever experienced. We

were clearly drawn to one another and found it easy to talk and laugh together. It sounds like a cliché, but we felt almost as though we had known each other for some time.

That night, Shellye and I went to church. At some point, I learned that she was seeing someone, but the relationship was not serious. The next day, the fellow Shellye had dated called her before I did. She refused to come to the phone. She had already decided that she didn’t want to talk to anyone but me.

When I finally called, it was Shellye’s turn to be bold. She asked me whether I was coming over and said she wanted to see me again. I didn’t have to think twice about my answer. I just said, “I’ll come over.”

When I got to Shellye’s house, she and her twin sister answered the door. Seeing the two of them caught me by surprise, but I got over it. There was no doubt in my mind: there was only one Shellye, and she was the girl for me.

The memories of those days are strong. The slightest reminder can trigger my senses and transport me back in time. During our courtship, I made it a habit to pick up some watermelon gum and a Dr. Pepper on my way to Shellye’s house. To this day, the

sight, smell, or taste of either one affects us, and each year the first October breeze reminds us of the day we met.

My Better Half

Years ago, I prayed and asked God to bring the right woman into my life. I knew it was important to find not just a good woman but the right woman. God answered my prayers. Shellye is everything I need and everything I am not. She helps me to remain rooted

in what matters. She helps me to strike a healthy balance between family and ministry. She helps me to stay grounded when I’m on the road.

Shellye is an amazing wife and mother and the perfect helpmate. Of course, she is much more than that. Ask anyone about Shellye, and they will tell you that she is a rock. In fact, that’s what they call her: the rock. She is content in life. She is comfortable with our

roles and all they entail. She is supportive of me while at the same time fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom. Her deep contentment brings me peace. I know that when I’m on the road, I don’t have to worry about her or my kids. Shellye has it all in hand.

Not everyone who travels enjoys the kind of homecomings I do. Not every spouse can deal with the things Shellye takes in stride. Keeping the home fires burning is not a chore for my wife. When I return from a stint on the road, I enter a home bubbling over with

warmth and love. It is inviting and reassuring and demonstrates Shellye’s wholeness. Her joy is a great blessing to our family. As a man,

I can’t imagine a better home life than the one I’ve got. As a father, I can’t imagine a better mother for Ashleigh and Emmaleigh.

One of my favorite pastimes is watching Shellye and our girls interact. She’s got a way about her that brings tears to my eyes. Whatever the activity, Shellye is right beside them. When they are learning their Scripture memory verses, Shellye is there. Already,

Ashleigh can quote nine verses of a psalm at a single clip, in part because Shellye is so supportive. As a mom, she is dedicated to helping both our daughters succeed in their endeavors.

Not that being a full-time mom is easy, especially when your husband travels as much as I do. Shellye is the nightly homework helper, the daily taxi, the resident chef, and keeper of all things domestic. Yet she relishes her life. She sincerely enjoys shuttling the girls to and from school and cheerleading practice—and not as a drive-by mother, either. Shellye is very involved at our girls’ school and finds ways to contribute and be a blessing to the staff and faculty.

As a life partner, Shellye is my perfect match, emotionally and otherwise. I value her opinion. She is smart, objective, wise, and knows me better than anybody else does. When questions arise as to the direction of ministry or the choice of songs for an album

or which producer or record company is right, I know I can go to Shellye for straightforward, reliable input.

Being transparent and at ease in our conversation is something we have been able to do since that first day in Rosine. There are no egos in the way. We just keep it simple and honest. That freedom allows us to grow individually and as a couple. After a two-andone-

half-hour concert, Shellye will say, “Honey, that set was too long.” I don’t try to convince her that a one-hundred-fifty-minute concert is a great idea. I take my wife’s advice seriously; I know she has my best interests at heart. At the same time, she knows I trust her and won’t be offended by the truth. In the end, if you can’t tell each other the truth, you have to wonder how solid your relationship really is.

One of the reasons Shellye and I came together in the first place has to do with transparency. At the very beginning, it was clear that Shellye loved me for who I was and not what I did. It wasn’t about the music, the recognition, or anything like that. In fact,

when we first fell in love, she didn’t know the extent of my musical and ministry life.

Shellye liked me as I was. As a result, she brought out the best in me. I had experienced relationships that lacked that kind of truth. In school, everyone had their crush and their reasons. I was a country kid with no fancy home or cars or anything to draw attention

to me. I wasn’t very popular with the girls. In fact, they usually gave me the brush-off. They weren’t interested in me—at least, not until I sang at a school variety show. Then, all of a sudden, the girls noticed me. Suddenly, I was in demand.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

—Proverbs 18:22

Shellye did not operate that way. She loved me first and learned about what I did afterward. We were blessed in that when we started our relationship, we truly loved each other. We weren’t drawn by illusions or impressions or any other distractions. That has proved to be a good foundation for the rest of our life together.

Shellye’s Testimony: It’s Not About Me

I met Jason in Rosine, Kentucky, when I was sixteen years old. In all of Kentucky, I may have been the only person who hadn’t heard of the Crabb Family. All I knew was that my stepmom and my father were taking me to a concert. There was a guy there my stepmom

wanted me to meet.

Moments after I met Jason, he asked me, “What are you doing tonight?”

I said, “I’m going to church.”

Without the slightest hesitation, he said, “I’m going with you”— which he did!

That is where our relationship began. We hit it off from the start, but since we lived seventeen miles apart, it wasn’t easy getting to see one another. Not only that, but Jason was on the road a lot. Often he would come in during the middle of the week, wake up

at six in the morning, and drive over to Central City, where I lived. He would take me to school and return in the evening to pick me up and take me home.

Just about every time Jason came to get me, I would ask him, “What should we do tonight?”

Jason’s answer was always the same: “We’ve got to put up posters.”

The posters let everyone know when the Crabb Family would be singing. Once each month, they gave a concert in Owensboro, Kentucky. It took lots of posters to get the word out. That is how we spent most of our dates. And since the Owensboro concerts

happened every month, we were never done hanging posters. Jason and I dated for three years. In 1997, I graduated from high school, and on May 12, 1998, Jason and I got married in my home church. I was nineteen, and he was twenty-one. Our backgrounds

were very similar; my parents divorced when I was only four years old, and my dad raised me; my twin sister, Kellye; and our older sister, Leslie.

Because my dad worked on the railroad and was gone a lot of the time, my grandmother lived with us and cared for us kids. She was very involved with my sisters and me and played a very significant role in our lives. So did Dad. He worked really hard to make a living for all of us. My dad and grandmother did a great job raising us—and they made sure we were in church every time the doors opened!

After two years of marriage, Jason and I learned that I was pregnant. We were scared, yet excited. Starting a family was something we both wanted very much. But almost as soon as our dream was underway, it was threatened. Early in the pregnancy, I started having complications. Soon afterward, I had a miscarriage. Jason and I were devastated to lose our baby. We couldn’t understand why this had happened to us.

About a year and a half later, I got pregnant again. Our hopes were high, but we lost that baby too. It hit us hard. I remember asking the Lord over and over again to give me the strength to get through the ordeal. He did.

Yet getting through the miscarriages was only part of the process. For so long I struggled with the loss of our babies and the disappointment that followed. At times I almost questioned God; I wanted to ask Him why He allowed everyone but us to have babies.

The loss of our children did not make sense to me. Still, I kept praying. At some point I realized that my focus was centered on me and what I wanted. I was preoccupied with the way I thought things should turn out. What I really needed was to get to the point where it wasn’t about me.

Through prayer and dedication, I eventually got to where I needed to be. It wasn’t about us anymore. It was about what God wanted for our lives. The day came when I could agree with the psalmist who said, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Ps. 115:1).

Emotionally and spiritually, the change in perspective was dramatic. It not only kept us grounded in our trust of the Lord, but it also helped Jason and me to mature. Needless to say, our growth in this area was not easy; we were being stretched and tested. When you are in a situation like we were in, you sometimes wonder whether it will ever end.

Then one day, God spoke to me! He promised me a child. His promise did not come about right away, yet I knew I had heard His voice. And I knew He was faithful.

Shellye’s Testimony: Look to the Future

When Jason is onstage, he often tells the story of an evangelist friend who told us to buy a box of Pampers—before we had even conceived. The man’s name is Jay Boyd. Jason has known him since childhood when Jason and his family attended Jay’s revival meetings. Jason played drums for Jay at some point, and they have kept in touch over the years. The way Jason tells it, Jay could preach wallpaper right off the walls. I don’t doubt it. Jay is fearless about saying whatever he believes God wants said.

We bought that box of Pampers. Every day it served as a reminder that our promise was on its way. It was a tangible symbol of God’s promise and involvement in our lives,much as the watch from Pastor Parsley is symbolic of God’s faithfulness in Jason’s transition

to solo ministry.

This pastor encouraged us to be proactive in our faith, thanking God in advance for the blessing of our children. Doing that forced us to take our focus off the past. Jason and I set our sights on what was yet to come. Before six months went by, I was pregnant again!

This time, I knew everything was going to be fine. In fact, there was not a single doubt in my mind. I just started thanking God for our baby, knowing that He was taking care of us.

He was and still is taking care of us—all four of us! Now, when I look back to the years before the births of Ashleigh Taylor and Emmaleigh Love, I understand why things happened the way they did. The Lord has shown me, and continues to show me, the good

that came out of our trial. Night after night, women with similar heartaches come to our table. They are hurting and wondering why, just as we were during those hard years. Now we have precious opportunities to minister to them. And because we walked through the same flames, these women realize that they can come through the fire too.

God is faithful. He will comfort others as He comforted us! He will help others to understand the things He helped us to understand. They too will come out of the fire knowing that “ . . . neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). In His wisdom and because of our experiences, God has given us a special way to share His love.

There is one other thing God showed me after our trial ended. I learned that trials are often one part why and an equal part when. It is clear to me now that when Jason and I first conceived, it was not the right time for us. The first five years of our marriage helped

us to draw close and build a stronger bond between us. God had something in mind for that season, and it wasn’t children.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

—Jeremiah 29:11

Through the struggle, we continued to minister. At times, when Shellye and I were on the bus, I’d look over at her and see tears in her eyes. Those tears did the talking even when no words were exchanged.

There was a question in my wife’s tears. The question was, “Why?” To this day, I really can’t say why Shellye and I endured the devastation of miscarriages. At this point, I’m not sure I need to know. I do know this: our experiences have helped us to bless others. So many people suffer the heartbreak of losing a baby. The numbers are staggering. In fact, depending upon the statistical source, as many as one out of four women suffer a miscarriage.

There are a lot of hurting people behind those numbers. For Shellye and me, it is easy to relate to them. We know what it is like to lose a child. It is hard—really hard. Yet even in the midst of our losses, we were not without hope. Nor was I without a voice. I just

kept singing “Through the Fire” and “Still Holding On.” I knew I could trust God to show up and carry me past the pain again.

Those two songs encouraged Shellye and me when we needed it most. It was as though God was saying, “I am faithful, and I will continue to be faithful.” He was giving us, through whatever means necessary, the strength to heed the words David wrote during his

own desperate times: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” (Ps. 31:24).

God used those songs to renew our hope and refresh our souls. He used people too. Shellye told you about Jay Boyd and the Pampers. Jay knew my family for years. His and my dad’s relationship dated back before the Crabb Family Singers to the days when my dad was a minister. I remember Jay in the pulpit—the man could preach! I am thankful that our relationship has continued throughout the years.

Jay told Shellye and me to thank God for the promise before it came to pass. He said we needed to do what the Bible says and call “things that are not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17). We needed to be like the men who tore the roof off a building because they believed Jesus would heal the paralyzed man they brought to Him (Mark 2:1–12). We needed to be like Jairus trusting Jesus, even in the worst circumstances (Mark 5:22–43). We needed to come to the place where no matter the setbacks we would remain focused on the love and power of God to bless and heal.

All of Christianity is built on that kind of faith. It is the faith that says, “When doubt comes, we’ll praise Him. When life comes apart at the seams, we’ll praise Him. No matter the outcome, we’ll praise Him. Whether the promise comes to pass or it doesn’t, we’ll praise Him.”

That last one is a tough nut to crack. It means selling out to God to such a degree that your dreams are not as important as the fact that you are His. It took Shellye and me time to get there. We were not satisfied with the outcome of two miscarriages. We were not

satisfied to be childless. I won’t kid you; after the second miscarriage,

I threw my hands in the air and said, “God, I may not be the greatest father, but I will be a grateful father.”

In the midst of an ordeal like that, there are moments when you feel hopeless and unable to push past the sorrow. We often minister to people who feel exactly that way. Our hearts break for them, because we understand. We are so privileged to pray for them. How blessed we are to hear their testimonies afterward! Some of them write us to say that they have given birth. Others are ecstatic when they tell us that God answered their prayers through adoption. Still, I know that some of them have yet to see their dreams fulfilled.

For those who have had miscarriages, there is good news: your babies are in heaven. So are our babies. As hard as it was to lose them, I get excited to think that someday Ashleigh and Emmaleigh will meet their siblings in heaven!

At some distant day, all six of us will be there together.

It is not easy to be strong and take heart when things happen in defiance of God’s promises. In those crushing moments, it is hard to know what to think or how to respond. Should we trust in silence and ignore our doubts? Or should we deny our emotions, as though we were not in turmoil?

Our responses to difficulty have a lot to do with how we were raised and what we have been told about God. Some people say we should never, ever question God. Yet some of the greatest leaders and prophets in all of history have asked Him tough questions.

When Abraham learned of God’s plan to investigate the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pressed God to share His intentions. He wanted to know whether God would kill his nephew Lot and Lot’s family along with the depraved. Abraham asked God point-blank, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen. 18:23). He continued to press God until God assured him that the handful of righteous people living in the forsaken place would be spared (Gen. 18:24–32).

Life is full of questions. Not all of them are as pressing as our questions about death, suffering, and loss. Yet, even if we had never experienced a day of adversity, we would ask our Father the curious questions children always ask their parents:

• “How many stars are in the sky?”

• “Why is grass green?”

• “Why do we park in the driveway and drive on the


• “Why is my last name Crabb?” (Imagine how much

adversity a name like that can generate at school!)

• “”

My point is this: if you have taken oxygen into your lungs, you know that life is marked by trials and heartaches. We experience circumstances we don’t understand and don’t want to embrace. We have questions and will continue to have questions as long as we are breathing, and maybe even after that. Who is better able to answer us than God? He wasn’t surprised by Abraham’s questions, and He won’t be surprised by ours.

I have met people in all kinds of situations. Often I can almost hear their hearts asking, “Why, God?” Recently I prayed with a woman in the Midwest. She wanted me to ask God to help her keep her new job. She said, “I have an incurable disease.”

She lost her health insurance when she took the new job. That sounds like trouble enough for someone with an incurable disease. Yet she feared something worse. She feared being without work. She had a family to support and was worried about getting fired. I got the sense that she was a single parent. Whatever her status, she was obviously under a lot of pressure and had decided to make choices designed to improve her lot. She believed her new job would open a fresh chapter in her life.

She summed up her thoughts by saying something unforgettable: “I have to get back to living.”

As the tears streamed down her cheeks, I started praying for words of encouragement, something God would have her hear. In my mind, I imagined the questions piercing her heart.

“Am I going to make it?”

“Will I lose my job?”

“Am I going to die?”

“Will they find a cure for this disease, or will God heal me?”

Then I asked this dear woman a question: “Do you believe that God can heal you?”

“I am trying to,” she said. “I’m going to church and hanging on to every word the preacher says.”

Although her unanswered questions lingered, I knew she would be all right when she said, “I have to get back to living.” Her life had been as tough as nails, but she was not about to give up. Nor was she willing to accept the bleak picture the devil was trying to

present to her.

We must never forget that the devil is a liar. Lying is his stock and trade. Therefore it is up to us to take the offense where he and his lies are concerned. When he tempts me, I like to ask myself this question: What if Satan had to tell the truth about himself,

about God, and about our destinies? What kind of picture would he paint then? How successful would he be at killing, stealing, and destroying lives if he could suggest nothing but truth?

The answer is that he would fail miserably at deceiving us. Unfortunately, truth is not the enemy’s hallmark. He continues to seek those “he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, kjv.) The sense I got from the woman who wanted to get back to living was that she refused to be devoured by a liar. She was determined to keep moving forward. I like to see that kind of tenacity. People like her are hard to forget. In fact, I will never forget her or that altar service.

There are so many memories like that. The people we meet touch our hearts as much as we do theirs, if not more. I remember an outdoor concert from some years ago, before “Through the Fire” was completed. In fact, at the time, Dad had only part of the song

worked out. He had started it at the piano, but after a year, he was still stuck; the rest of the song just wouldn’t come together.

We had a product table at the concert. On that particular day, Dad was behind the table, and I was standing nearby. A woman walked up to Dad with a child in her arms. The woman asked Dad, “When you get back on the bus, will you pray for me? My son needs an operation, and my husband just left me.” We prayed for her right there.

A prayer request like that can take your breath away. Yet this woman showed great strength; as she turned to walk away, she reminded us about faith’s bottom line. Her last words to us were, “I’m still trusting in the Lord that He’s going to help me through all this.”

Her parting words were as riveting as her prayer request. We were reminded once again that there is always someone who is going through something worse than what we are experiencing. God used her to put our lives and issues into clear perspective.

That night Dad wrote the rest of “Through the Fire.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson

All Elise wants is to have her first kiss before she turns sixteen. Is that so bad? But when a friend's poor advice and the powers of electronic technology combine, Elise heads down a dangerous road. She is accused of "sexting" and gets kicked out of school. But is she really the one to blame?

This powerful and realistic story from beloved author Melody Carlson shows teen girls the impact of their choices when it comes to respecting themselves and their integrity. Honest and relevant, Never Been Kissed will make girls laugh, cry . . . and think.

Text Box: Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson ISBN: 978-0-8007-3259-2 Available January; $9.99

About the Author:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

Angel Harp by Micheal Phillips

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Angel Harp

FaithWords (January 26, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist, Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.

Visit the author's website.


Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99

Paperback: 464 pages

Publisher: FaithWords (January 26, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 044656771X

ISBN-13: 978-0446567718


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Digitalis by Ronie Kendig - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Barbour Publishing, Inc.(January 1, 2011)
Ronie Kendig


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series began in July 2010 from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

This is the second book in the series.


Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?


“The thing with storms is they have two potentials—to be a cleansing, bring about a freshness.” With a sigh, he handed it to Colton. “Or they can wreak devastating destruction.” (P 120)

Cowboy and Piper – even the names suggest something our of the ordinary. Stormy. Difficult. Digitalis contains a very tumultuous tale of danger, secrets, romance and the struggle to find a way through life challenges that seem insurmountable. Cowboy and his daughter have been through some pretty traumatic life-storms. Piper, on the other hand, has lived most of her life in the midst of a tsunami of circumstances. When these three meet and begin to establish relationship the difficulties of overcoming their individual emotional hurdles becomes immediately apparent.

Ronie Kendig’s creation of the covert operations group Nightshade carries a guaranteed thrill for lovers of romantic suspense. She has raised the bar yet again with her latest installment – Digitalis. Encompassing modern-day military hot-spots, technology, and covert operations, Kendig has reader’s heart racing almost continually. With a believable layer of relational conflict woven amid the action and the characters, Digitalis provides a satisfying read on many levels. The spiritual conflict among the characters only adds yet another enriching element to the story.

If you like romantic suspense, I can’t recommend Ronnie Kendig’s books highly enough!

If you would like to read an excerpt of Digitalis, go HERE.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren Wiersbe - My Thoughts

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Warren Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “Be” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, NE.


As Warren Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’” In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explores the “I AM” statements of God—from His burning bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claim to be the Light of the World. Jesus in the Present Tense offers a fresh exploration of God—the I AM.

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past, but the past should be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, “If it is the Lord’s will” (James 4:13-17). The better we understand our Lord’s I AM statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days (Deut. 33:25), and we will “run and not grow weary [and]…walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). We will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today—now.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404878
ISBN-13: 978-0781404877

My Thoughts:
This is a phenomenal book that explains relationship with God in a way that everyone can understand. I think that it would make a wonderful witnessing tool for those who don't know Christ, and it also serves as an encouragement to believers. It also offers reassurance and a deeper understanding about the believer's intimate relationship with the Savior.

Dr. Weirsbe is a phenomenal teacher, and this book is an exceptional view of Christ's love for us and the opportunity we have to enjoy Christ in every aspect of our lives. I highly recommend this book!


Moses Asks a Question

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

—Exodus 3:13

When Helen Keller was nineteen months old, she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf for life. It was not until she was ten years old that she began to have meaningful communication with those around her. It occurred when her gifted teacher Anne Sullivan taught her to say “water” as Anne spelled “water” on the palm of her hand. From that pivotal experience, Helen Keller entered the wonderful world of words and names, and it transformed her life. Once Helen was accustomed to this new system of communication with others, her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillips Brooks. One day during her lesson, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks: “I knew about God before you told me, only I didn’t know His name.”1

The Greek philosophers wrestled with the problem of knowing and naming God. “But the father and maker of all this universe is past finding out,” Plato wrote in his Timaeus dialogue, “and if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be impossible.” He said that God was “a geometrician,” and Aristotle called God “The Prime Mover.” No wonder the apostle Paul found an altar in Athens dedicated to “The Unknown God” (see Acts 17:22–23). The Greek philosophers of his day were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But thinkers in recent centuries haven’t fared much better. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Hegel called God “the Absolute,” and Herbert Spencer named Him “the Unknowable.” Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychiatry, wrote in chapter 4 of his book Totem and Taboo (1913), “The personalized God is psychologically nothing other than a magnified father.” God is a father figure but not a personal heavenly Father. British biologist Julian Huxley wrote in chapter 3 of his book Religion without Revelation (1957), “Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.” The fantasies described in Alice in Wonderland were more real to Huxley than was God Almighty!

But God wants us to know Him, because knowing God is the most important thing in life!


To begin with, knowing God personally is the only way we sinners can be saved. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). After healing a blind beggar, Jesus later searched for him and found him in the temple, and the following conversation took place: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” asked Jesus. The man said, “Who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

Jesus replied, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you” (John 9:35–38). The man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he fell on his knees before Jesus. Not only was the beggar given physical sight, but his spiritual eyes were also opened (Eph. 1:18) and he received eternal life. His first response was to worship Jesus publicly where everybody could see him.

This introduces a second reason why we must know who God is and what His name is: We were created to worship and glorify Him. After all, only little joy or encouragement can come from worshipping an “unknown God.” We were created in God’s image that we might have fellowship with Him now and “enjoy Him forever,” as the catechism says. Millions of people attend religious services faithfully each week and participate in the prescribed liturgy, but not all of them enjoy personal fellowship with God. Unlike that beggar, they have never submitted to Jesus and said, “Lord, I believe.” To them, God is a distant stranger, not a loving Father. Their religious lives are a routine, not a living reality.

But there is a third reason for knowing God. Because we possess eternal life and practice biblical worship, we can experience the blessing of a transformed life. After describing the folly of idol worship, the psalmist added, “Those who make them [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (see Ps. 115:1–8). We become like the gods that we worship! Worshipping a god we don’t know is the equivalent of worshipping an idol, and we can have idols in our minds and imaginations as well as on our shelves.

Our heavenly Father’s loving purpose for His children is that they might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man [Adam], so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man [Jesus]” (1 Cor. 15:49). However, we should not wait until we see Jesus for this transformation to begin, because God’s Holy Spirit can start changing us today. As we pray, meditate on the Word of God, experience suffering and joy, and as we witness, worship, fellowship with God’s people, and serve the Lord with our spiritual gifts, the Spirit quietly works within us and transforms us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

The conclusion is obvious: The better we know the Lord, the more we will love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we will worship and obey Him. As a result, we will become more like Him and experience what the apostle Peter called growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul took an incident out of the life of Moses (Ex. 34:29–35) and described it this way: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Moses didn’t realize that his face was radiant, but others saw it! He was being transformed.

God commands us to know Him and worship Him because He wants to give us the joyful privilege of serving and glorifying Him. Commanding us to worship isn’t God’s way of going on a heavenly ego trip, because we can supply God with nothing. “If I were hungry,” says the Lord, “I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Ps. 50:12). He commands worship because we need to worship Him! To humble ourselves before Him, to show reverence and gratitude, and to praise Him in the Spirit are essential to balanced growth in a normal Christian life. Heaven is a place of worship (Rev. 4—5), and we ought to begin to worship Him correctly right now. But unless we are growing in our knowledge of God and in our experience of His incredible grace, our worship and service will amount to very little.

Salvation, worship, personal transformation and loving service are all part of living in the present tense and depending on our Lord and Savior. “And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).


Moses spent forty years in Egypt “being educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). Then he fled for his life to Midian, where he spent the next forty years serving as a shepherd. Imagine a brilliant PhD earning a living by taking care of dumb animals! But the Lord had to humble Moses before He could exalt him and make him the deliverer of Israel. Like the church today, the nation of Israel was only a flock of sheep (Ps. 77:20; 78:52; Acts 20:28), and what the nation needed was a loving shepherd who followed the Lord and cared for His people. The Lord spent eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of faithful service. God isn’t in a hurry.

The call of Moses started with the curiosity of Moses. He saw a bush that was burning but not burning up, and he paused to investigate. “Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect,” said British essayist Samuel Johnson, and Moses certainly qualified. He saw something he couldn’t explain and discovered that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was dwelling in that burning bush (Deut. 33:16). The Lord God had come to visit him.

What did that remarkable burning bush signify to Moses, and what does it signify to us? For one thing, it revealed the holiness of God; because throughout Scripture, fire is associated with the dynamic holy character of the Lord. Isaiah called God “the consuming fire” and the “everlasting burning” (Isa. 33:14; see also Heb. 12:29). Note that Moses saw this burning bush on Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:1); and when God gave Moses the law on Sinai, the mountain burned with fire (Ex. 24:15–18; Acts 7:30–34). How should we respond to the holy character of God? By humbling ourselves and obeying what He commands. (See Isa. 6.) Theodore Epp wrote, “Moses was soon to discover that the essential qualifications for serving God are unshod feet and a hidden face.”2 How different a description from that of “celebrities” today, who wear expensive clothes and make sure their names and faces are kept before their adoring public. God wasn’t impressed with Moses’ Egyptian learning, for “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Cor. 3:19). God’s command to us is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). When the prodigal son repented and came to his father, the father put shoes on his feet (Luke 15:22); but spiritually speaking, when believers humbly surrender to the Lord, they must remove their sandals and become bondservants of Jesus Christ.

The burning bush also reveals the grace of God, for the Lord had come down to announce the good news of Israel’s salvation. He knew Moses’ name and spoke to him personally (Ex. 3:4; John 10:3). He assured Moses that He saw the misery of the Jewish people in Egypt and heard their cries of pain and their prayers for help. “I am concerned about their suffering,” He said. “So I have come down to rescue them” (Ex. 3:7–8). The Lord remembered and honored His covenant promises with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the time had come to deliver His people.

It was by grace that God chose Moses to be His servant. The Lord wasn’t disturbed by Moses’ past failures in Egypt, including the fact that even his own people had rejected his leadership (Ex. 2:11–15). Moses was now an old man who had been away from Egypt for forty years, but this didn’t hinder God from using him effectively. The Lord knows how to use the weak, foolish, and despised things of the world to humiliate the wise and the strong and ultimately to defeat the mighty (1 Cor. 1:26–31). God would receive great glory as Moses magnified His name in Egypt.


If Moses was going to accomplish anything in Egypt, he needed to know the name of the Lord, because the Israelites would surely ask, “Who gave you the authority to tell us and Pharaoh what to do?” God’s reply to Moses’ question was, “I AM WHO I AM.” Moses told the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 3:14). The name I AM comes from the Hebrew word YHWH. To pronounce this holy name, the Jews used the vowels from the name Adonai (Lord) and turned YHWH into Yahweh (LORD in our English translations). The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change. I am here with you and for you.”

The name Yahweh (Jehovah, LORD) was known in the time of Seth (Gen. 4:26), Abraham (14:22; 15:1), Isaac (25:21–22), and Jacob (28:13; 49:18). However, the fullness of its meaning had not yet been revealed. The Law of Moses warned the Jews, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Ex. 20:7; see also Deut. 28:58). Their fear of divine judgment caused the Jewish people to avoid using the holy name Yahweh and to substitute Adonai (Lord) instead.

In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people.

• Yahweh-Jireh: The LORD will provide or see to it (Gen. 22:14)

• Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals (Ex. 15:26)

• Yahweh-Nissi: The LORD our banner (Ex. 17:15)

• Yahweh-M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies (Lev. 20:8)

• Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace (Judg. 6:24)

• Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd (Ps. 23:1)

• Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts (Ps. 46:7)

• Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness (Jer. 23:6)

• Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there (Ezek. 48:35)

Of course, all of these names refer to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Because He is Yahweh-Jireh, He can supply all our needs and we need not worry (Matt. 6:25–34; Phil. 4:19). As Yahweh-Rophe, He is able to heal us; and as Yahweh-Nissi, He will help us fight our battles and defeat our enemies. We belong to Yahweh-M’Kaddesh because He has set us apart for Himself (1 Cor. 6:11); and Yahweh-Shalom gives us peace in the midst of the storms of life (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:9). All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Yahweh-Rohi takes us to Psalm 23 and John 10, encouraging us to follow the Shepherd. The armies of heaven and earth are under the command of Yahweh-Sabaoth, and we need not panic (Josh. 5:13–15; Rev. 19:11–21). Because we have trusted Yahweh-Tsidkenu, we have His very righteousness put to our account (2 Cor. 5:21), and our sins and iniquities are remembered no more (Heb. 10:17). Jesus is Yahweh-Shammah, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and He will be with us always, even to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” is still His guarantee (Heb. 13:5). In His incarnation, Jesus came down to earth, not as a burning bush but as “a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground” (Isa. 53:1–2; see also Phil. 2:5–11). He became a human, a man, for us (John 1:14); He became obedient unto death for us and became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus became a curse for us and on the cross bore the curse of the law for us who have broken God’s law (Gal. 3:13–14). And one day “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2)!

What is God’s name? His name is I AM—and that is also the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Angel Harp by Micheal Phillips - some thoughts

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Angel Harp
FaithWords (January 26, 2011)
Michael Phillips


Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.


Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

My Thoughts:
I'm only a few chapters in, but Marie's character is already richly ingrained in my mind. What a beautifully descriptive story! You can feel the ocean spray and hear the harp music as you read! Eagerly awaiting the finish of this story!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Angel Harp, go HERE

Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly Smith

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Passport Through Darkness

David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kimberly L. Smith is the president and cofounder of Make Way Partners, a mission organization committed to ending human trafficking. She is currently leading Make Way Partners to build the only private and indigenously based anti-trafficking network in Africa and Eastern Europe. A devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Smith lives with her husband, Milton, in Sylacauga, Alabama.

Visit the author's website.


Each one of us longs to know we matter. We hunger to know that we have purpose, our life has meaning, and God dreams great dreams for us. In Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances, Kimberly Smith invites us into her own struggles as an ordinary woman who feels those aches, asks those questions, and stumbles through a quest to find her place in a broken world.

Traveling around the world and deep into the darkness of her own heart, Smith’s worst fears collided with her faith as she and her family discovered the atrocities of human trafficking. But in that broken place a self-centered life was transformed into an international effort to save thousands from modern-day slavery, persecution, disease, and genocide.

As Smith and her husband risk everything for orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa, they see God work again and again in impossible situations, especially in their own lives and marriage. They see God change them—even in their exhaustion, marital struggles, and physical limitations. They see the beauty of living out God’s dreams.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143470212X
ISBN-13: 978-1434702128



I stood at a precipice, a crag of rock in a parched, thirsty land that mirrored the condition of my heart. From where I stood, I looked down upon the riverbed that rendered the jagged cut reaching from the left corner of my mouth down to the bottom of my chin, and my right eye purplish black.

I recalled the day these marks came upon me and considered how many of the women I saw laboring in the current below who shared my experience. Fifty percent? Ninety percent? Had any woman been spared the hand-delivered scars of violence birthed in the tomb of this brutal, war-torn land?

Sickly cows wove around and between the women in the river. As the cows did their business in the water, some of the women bathed. Others washed rags they donned as clothing. Still others drew cans of drinking water from the soapy-feculent murkiness.

Taking stock of the last few months spent here at the border of Darfur, Sudan—the cusp of hell—I savored how God had knit these women into the fiber of my soul in ways that I’d never imagined possible back in the day of my corporate-ladder climbing. Love for them had changed my whole world. It had changed me. Now it was time for me to take what I’d been shown here back to my home in America with prayers that it, too, would be transformed.

My soul felt as restless and insecure as my feet did shuffling at the edge of the cliff.

A part of me felt so dark, lonely, and overwhelmed, I wanted to throw myself from the spire and be done with it. That would be the easy way, though, and my life had never seemed to be about finding the easy path. In fact, something in me seemed to like making life as difficult as possible.

A sprig of hope, a mite of faith encouraged me to stand down. Wait. Be expectant, but don’t jump. Pray. Help was surely around the corner.

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) had promised to send someone to witness the persecution, rape, mutilation, and genocide I was documenting on the southern border of Darfur. Knowing it had taken me months of preparation, followed by endless fieldwork, to find and accurately record this data—information that I was still just beginning to comprehend—I didn’t see how I could possibly help the VOM rep to grasp it in just three days.

Sudan is the tenth-largest country in the world; the region of Darfur is the size of France. The southern half of Sudan has a grand total of about three miles of pavement. Darfur has none. The reality of war, insecurity, violence, and lack of infrastructure, combined with the fact that we had no vehicle to speed up our maneuvers, rendered the task of sufficiently covering the vast territory in such a short time frame all but impossible.

I’d taken it upon myself to take the time and risk of walking from village to village or riding our sole motorbike to the death camps, what I’d come to call the Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDP). I started calling IDPs death camps after my first visit over a year ago. Before that trip, the word camp always conjured an image of security, even if the conditions were rustic. Visiting one stripped me of my penchant for naiveté, showing me thousands of people squatting in the desert with no food, water, or security—just waiting for death. For most, the wait wasn’t long.

I wanted to make sure I would be able to adequately expose the VOM rep to the same kind of reality. To do that, I would need transportation to cover vast amounts of ground more quickly than walking would allow.

Late yesterday a brainstorm hit me. We’d ride donkeys! James Lual Atak, our indigenous director, laughed at my kawaidja (rich white person) notions, calling me a Sudanese wannabe. But he humored me. Since the VOM rep would be here in just a few days, early this morning he’d brought several donkeys to our camp so we could test-ride them before the rep arrived.

Always ready for action, I was the first to climb on. An old man we called Peterdit held the end of the rope tied around the neck of my donkey, which I’d named Blue. The sharp ridge of spine rising from Blue’s bare back cut into me in all the wrong places, and I squirmed to make a seat for myself.

Peterdit kept overenunciating two Arabic words for me, one for stop and one for faster. As Blue reared up, alternately kicking his hind legs and then his front legs high into the air, he let me know he wasn’t happy about my squirming on his backside.

Blue’s outburst jerked the rope from Peterdit’s grasp. Blue set off toward the village, bucking like a horizontal kangaroo.

In my hysteria I could only summon up one of the two words Peterdit taught me. I screamed it as firmly as I could, “Harach! Harach! Harach!” over and over again trying to make Blue obey my limited grasp of the Arabic language: “Stop!”

My head thrashed back and forth, and I flopped to Blue’s side, squeezing my legs around his girth as tightly as I could, while clinging to the frayed rope now burning the palm of my hands as it ripped through my fingers. As I blitzed by, I caught a glimpse of James laughing uproariously from atop his donkey, his long legs conveniently reaching his feet flat to the desert floor. At the time, I found no humor in Blue’s fit, or my condition!

After my whirlwind tour of the village via Blue’s conniption, Peterdit boldly stepped into Blue’s path and grabbed the rope flinging freely in the air as I clung to Blue’s short tuft of mane. He yelled a word I did not recognize in such force that the beast calmed himself, and I fell to the ground. Although my body would yell its trauma to me through deep musculature aches for many days, my only serious injury was to my pride.

Apparently the one Arabic word I had been yelling was not the word “Stop!” but rather “Faster, faster, faster!”

The comedy of my barebacked-donkey ride at this morning’s sunrise seemed a millennium away, and a stark contrast to the bleakness of what followed. As waves of heat swelled from the desert floor, I wrote off the whole donkey deal as another one of my romantic inclinations, and James and I opted to walk, not ride, to the death camp.

While there may be few good days in a death camp, this one was particularly brutal. We’d been out of medicine for a month, out of food for a week, and today, we ran out of water. All of those life giving commodities were gone, except for the private stash we kept at our compound for James and me, the kawaidja.

Although at home in the United States, people often thought of me as a poor missionary, I was coming to understand and grapple with the fact that I was, in reality, wealthy for simple things like never running out of water.

Up to this point in my life, what had I chosen to do with my riches? Standing on that cliff, I painfully acknowledged how I’d squandered so much of what God had given me, most painfully my entire life. Many times throughout this journey, this awakening, I have come perilously close to throwing it all away.

Through God’s grace, I slowly stepped down from the precipice and began to face the end of the me I’d created for myself. I wanted to live the life—be the me—He dreamed of.

I remembered a prayer I’d cried out many years before, begging Him to use me. I wondered, if I’d known where that prayer would lead, would I still have prayed it? Deciding the answer was yes, I uttered a new prayer: “You can have whatever You want from me, but please, God, just show me what difference one person can make in the darkness of this broken world.”

The following is His story, as lived through me to this point.